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Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMI)

Floral border outside Humanities Bridgeford Street - home of CMIST

About the Institute

The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMI) is a centre for excellence in quantitative social science. Our core mission is to provide rigorous empirical answers to contemporary social and political questions, and to empower others to do the same

The Institute provides a focal point at The University of Manchester for the application of quantitative methods in interdisciplinary social science research in order to generate a world class research environment.

Our work contributes to advancing quantitative social science (QSS) in three key ways. First, through developing robust methods and complex forms of data to conduct QSS; second, by using those methods and data to address important social and political questions; and finally by delivering high quality training to build the key skills and capacity of researchers to engage in QSS.

CMI combines the strengths of two previous research centres in the Social Sciences at The University of Manchester, the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Surveys Research and the Institute for Social Change.

Today we are building on this reputation for quantitative social science and the development and application of advanced quantitative methods. We bring together expertise in statistical modelling and survey research methods with a focus on political participation, ageing, ethnicity, health, class, gender and labour. This inter-disciplinarity means that we are able to offer highly original and creative insights into understanding contemporary problems.


The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research is directed by Rachel Gibson, who joined the University of Manchester as Professor of Politics in the Institute for Social Change in December 2007. In 2016 she was appointed as Director of CMI.

Rachel received her PhD from Texas A&M University in the US and has held academic posts at the Universities of Leicester and Salford prior to arriving at Manchester. She has held a range of international research and teaching fellowships at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), the Australian National University (ANU), and the Autonomous University in Barcelona (AUB). 

Rachel has directed several projects examining the impact of the Internet on political parties, campaigns and voters funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC). She has been a PI/Co-I on the Australian Election Study since 2001, co-directs the Australian Candidate Study and is a member of the Planning Committee of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES).

She led the internet component of the 2015 British Election Study (iBES) which undertook to merge survey responses with social media tracking data. Rachel has served as a co-editor of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties and is a member of the Editorial Board of several specialist and generalist journals including the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Information Polity and the Australian Journal of Political Science.

She is a  member of the Peer Review College of the ESRC and regularly reviews for a range of funding bodies including the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy.

Find out more

To find out more about what we do, take a look at our research groups, publications and events.